(This is a continuation of observations about the compelling need for life mentors. It began earlier here http://truth-publications.com/who-are-you-copying-off-of/ a bit earlier. If nothing else, perhaps I can educate you about some of my own mistakes – as a protégé and as a mentor.)
Mentor was a man who made a long-term impact on Odyssius son Telemachus. His effort lasted 20 years. It was a long-term investment. Influence does not happen over a weekend or is the result of a single sermon. There is investment and observation. Two questions to consider:
- Who is influencing you? Should they be in that role? Is their doctrine solid and clear – it not – don’t let that person’s doctrine affect you. Because one’s doctrinal position on things is so important it might be wise to actually have that person’s influence diminish.
- Who are you influencing? Timothy was only 28 years old when Paul instructed him to take what he’d been given and give it to other faithful men who’d pass it on to other faithful men. Younger people are to be influencers!
Several things are challenging realities in all this:
This pursuit of “mentors” has some challenges for us because we seek perfection. Even turning to the scripture to find real-world help is surprising. It is amazing how non-heroic the characters of scripture are. These guys are not models of virtue: Abraham lied; Jacob cheated; Moses murdered; David committed adultery; Peter blasphemed. There is none good but one! There was only one who was perfect.
We must get beyond “I’m looking for perfection.” If perfection is the prerequisite for mentoring; none qualify. Mentors must be allowed to be recipients of grace.
- Martin Luther, a powerful influencer of the first step in the reformation, had angry outbursts.
- John Wesley influenced many men but suffered through an extremely difficult marriage.
- Charles Spurgeon struggled with such deep depression he would go to a country home for months on end.
Don’t be so idealistic that you seek for mentors without weaknesses. All people have clay feet . . . allow it to be . . . expect it to be. All have received God’s good grace. Great strengths are often represented by glaring weaknesses.
Mentors ARE Needed
Someone wrote, “The fathers we choose are more important than the father we are born to.” I’m blessed by my biological heritage, however there were some things I needed to learn from men other than L.C. Coon. I chose some “fathers.” As the years pass – those relationships change. Let me offer some suggestions for selecting mentors – the people from whom we learn “how.”
It is important to ask ourselves:
- Is what they are doing working to accomplish the Lord Jesus Christ’s purpose in the land? How so? Can you point to some specific people who have been converted and discipled as a result of their effort?
- Is what they are doing making a difference? Don’t waste your time with people who can tell you the best fly for a particular stream but the church they lead has no ongoing prayer program . . . or no outreach effort.
- Do I want to become what that person is? You become what you spend time with and tend to lean in the direction you look.
If it does not fit or is ineffective, why would I want to repeat someone else’s mistakes?
For me . . . consciously or sub-consciously I sought out men who had not “settled” for average. Those men became advisors with whom I would consult in various situations.
Don’t try to go this alone. There are too many people from whom you can learn. Call, contact and connect – ask questions – apply, try out the deep things these people are doing.